Corporate strategic planning: a survey of its practice in some selected Kenyan companies
Shumbusho, Vianney R
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The management technique of corporate strategic planning can be defined as, a formal process of developing objectives for the company and its component parts, evolving alternate strategies to achieve these objectives, doing this against a background of systematic appraisal of internal strengths, weaknesses, environmental changes and finally translating strategy into detailed operational plans and seeing to it that these plans are carried out. Most strategic decisions will commit the organisation on a long-term basis. This is the raison d' etre of strategic planning. Corporate strategic planning aims at integrating and coordinating the operations of several autonomous and semi autonomous divisions to ensure that different parts of the organisation are not working at cross-purposes. To-day, corporate strategic planning is gaining momentum and its effectiveness is being heralded by a large number of organisations especially in the western countries. What about the status of this management technique in the Kenyan companies? The study is meant to find out its state of development in the selected Kenyan companies , why it is being developed, how far it has been implemented, its effectiveness, factors affecting it and its likely future developments. 'The environment in which the Kenyan companies exist and with which they interact is increasing in complexity, and the rate of change is accelerating. .It is becoming difficulty for the Kenyan ~ executivies to evaluate the Impact on a company of some of the environmental changes. Thus the need to determine the company ,objectives and to select the strategy most likely to achieve them is greater than ever in Kenyan firms. The general view of the state of' corporate strategic planning in the Kenyan companies studied is that the subsidiaries of the multi-nationals have well developed and organised planning departments. As for the purely Kenyan companiesor those in .which the governmen thas majority shares, the corporate planning departments are still young, and most of them were started because the companies had been making losses. The executives in these companies realise that more efforts are required to Improve their corporate planning. In the majority of companies surveyed, the starting point for the development of Corporate planning is an awareness of the planning concept and its application to solve the client needs of the company, However,because planning presents new possibilities for dealing with change, it is seen differently by different people and maybe required to satisfy a variety of needs. Several factors were found to be affecting the present state of development of corporate strategic planning. First, the involvement of the board of directors was found to be very important. It ensures that there is no separation between planning and decision-making. Their involvement also provide the visible evidence of the importance attached to planning and so encourages the rest of the-company to accord it the attention it deserves. Secondly, the role played by the chief executive is quite important. It was found out that though the active support and involvement of the chief executive, corporate .strategic planning could never-get off the ground, The third important factor affecting the development of corporate strategic plannings that of line management Corporate planning cannot be imposed, it will only work if line management want it. It must heavily involve line management if it is to stand any chance of acceptance. As to the possible future developments, it was felt that more companies will likely embrace corporate strategic planning, and the use of computers and sophisticated management science techniques on a large scale is envisaged. Corporate strategic planing entails a lot of hard work, difficulties are bound to be encountered, but as survey companies unanimously pointed out, the final rewards justify the effort expended.